Communicating Ethical Engagement Abroad: A Content Analysis of Service-Learning Study Abroad Third-Party Provider Websites

This article shares the results of a study that analyzed the website content of eight third-party providers that offer service-learning study abroad programs to college students. The study looked specifically at the information about service-learning projects and how host communities, community partners, and target populations are portrayed or represented within that content. Data are analyzed through the lens of two ethical guidelines for international service-learning defined by The Forum on Education Abroad: prioritization of human dignity and community autonomy; and recognizing the risk of paternalism, exploitation, and neocolonial behavior. The findings of this study serve to provide baseline data about the public information shared by international service-learning program providers about service projects and partners as well as insights into how organizations that produce web content about service-learning partnerships can design information that meets ethical standards related to upholding dignity, respecting autonomy, and challenging paternalism.

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